Saturday, March 14, 2009

More Gin and Vice

It was back to Cornhill on Friday, this time after dark, for a further dose of 'Gin and Vice' a talk by Rob Taylor of The Benjamin Franklin House.

Hogarth's famous drawing 'Gin Lane' depicts eighteenth century London, when the between rich and poor was at its most extreme and a servant could be beaten to death with impunity. Rob Taylor is an expert on such Georgian topics as the price of high class courtesans and tavern prostitutes and the ingredients of the gin-based cocktail known as 'poor man's punch'.

When friend Joanna read my January 30th blog of the talk she knew her fellow trainee Westminster Guides would be keen to hear it so she asked Rob to speak to an invited group at The Counting House pub, on Cornhill.

Caroline Rance, who belongs to the same online writers group as me, said it sounded just her kind of thing. Her book Kill-Grief will be out on April 16th. The title is a good way of describing the role of gin in the lives of the poor at that time. As Caroline says, it was their only anaesthetic against the many hardships they were forced to endure.

The Counting House plays a similar role in the lives of bankers and city men. The noise that hit us when we walked in, you'd never know there was a credit crunch. As last-minute arrivals there was no chance for R and I to get a drink until the interval but were lucky to get a couple of spare seats in the front row in the room reserved for the talk.

Apart from Rob I recognised a few familiar faces. One of them was Linda Stratmann, a real-life-crime writer I'd last seen at a talk about forensics for authors. She's nearly finished a first draft of a book which picks out a murder in each of all the different London boroughs and she generously advised me on a novel I'm writing myself.

After our exposure to the cheap vices of Georgian times we blinked when the barman charged £7.50 for a pint of Grolsch and a pint of Guinness. It made me almost nostalgic for the good old days of 'poor man's punch'.

The Counting House:


Caroline Rance said...

Thanks for the plug, Sheila! I didn't realise you were at the talk otherwise would have hung around to say hello. It was really interesting - I was glad I went, and will keep an eye on the Benjamin Franklin House schedule for other lectures of interest.

£7.50 for a pint? Yikes!

Sheila Cornelius said...

Sorry, should have made that clearer. £7.50 for two pints - still pretty steep, though.


Caroline Rance said...

Ah, yes, it's perfectly clear - I just mis-read it out of excitement that you mentioned my book! Rather steep, though, as you say.